Benefits of a COVID-19 Diary

Regular writing can bolster the immune system, help you recover from traumatic events more successfully and ease stress and depression. Professor James Pennebaker, from the University of Texas in Austin

Soon after I sequestered myself to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, I started a COVID-19 Diary. Inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, at first I thought of the diary as a historical document and a remembrance for my great-grandchildren. However, I soon discovered the immediate personal benefits of expressing my frustrations, fears, victories, and disappointments.

Research by Professor Pennebaker and others suggest that those who regularly write in a journal or diary have a more vigorous antibody response to bacteria and viruses and produce less cortisol, a stress hormone. I can’t prove any reduction in stress or increased antibodies but I do know that expressing my thoughts in a diary has a calming affect on me as I clear my mind of negativity. I also use my diary to track progress on my soon-to-be-published book. It helps me stay focused and reminds me that I am making progress even if it feels slow. 

Affirmation: I will continue to write in my diary.

Coaching questions request: What would it be like to start your own COVID-19 Diary? What are the possible benefits? Write about your feelings, activities, circumstances every couple of days for a week. Let me know how this exercise works for you. 

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Patience Is More Than a Virtue

Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Joyce Meyer, author

Taking care of loved ones who are sick, dying, or have dementia requires a great deal of patience. It’s also important to be patient with ourselves and others as we process our grief.

Here are a few tips to improve your patience:

  • Keep a journal about what causes you to feel impatient. Be specific. This will help you acquire greater awareness of your feelings and their cause. 
  • Stop and be still for a few minutes everyday with no TV, no reading, no music, no electronics. This will help quiet your impatient mind.
  • Use small experiences requiring patience…i.e. waiting in line at the grocery store or the doctor’s office… to practice dealing with your impatient feelings. Read, write, think, knit…use this down time to be creative and side-step the stress caused by impatience. 
  • Have a back-up plan. We are never 100 percent ready for someone to die, but as you envision your life without this person, plan how you will live, consider the inner strength/faith you will call upon, you will be able to execute more patience as you deal with death and your grief in the future.

Affirmation: I am patient.

Coaching questions: Think of patience as an exercise, practicing a bit every day helps you to achieve a stronger peace of mind. What will you do today to exercise your patience muscle?

Don’t Try To Be A Superhero

The gradual losses experienced by caregivers can lead to sadness, depression, anger, guilt, sleeplessness and other physical and emotional problems. Family Caregiver Alliance Site

Caregivers are frequently referred to as heroes, even super-heroes. But they aren’t. Caregivers are not super-human or intended to be super-heroes. They are simply human beings doing their best to take care of someone they love whose brain is not working properly. Perhaps they may wish they had super powers or mystical abilities but to stay sane they must acknowledge that they can’t fix all the challenges that accompany a dementia diagnosis.

The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends that a caregiver identify her losses, her feelings about the losses and her corresponding grief. The Alliance also recommends keeping a journal or gratitude journal, attending support groups, and doing relaxation exercises. 

Affirmation: I take care of myself as I take care of another.

Coaching questions: Whether you are a caregiver or not, in what ways do you try to be a super-hero? How’s that working for you? If you are a caregiver, in what ways do you take care of yourself?